What would you do if a friend asks you to buy him bottled water for taking pills yet they’re carrying 5 liters of water and they have just bought a piece of chocolate?
You will probably buy it. But in your heart you will be livid, “She’s a crook. And she doesn’t know how to prioritize. Why can’t she use the money she had to buy water instead of chocolate? I’m done calling such a low life a friend.” 😤😤😤
But there’s much you don’t know. What if the water she’s carrying is not hers? Even if it could be hers, did you consider it might be for her children who get stomach problems whenever they try municipality water?
Why did she buy the chocolate? She could use the money for the water, right? But did you check what pills your friend is taking? Maybe the doctor recommended eating dark chocolate before taking the pills?
The most important lesson I learned about friendship is a good friend is someone who listens. And good listeners are curious people. They are people who want to know more about others. Above all, a good listener knows there’s always a story behind a story.
A friend is someone who listens to you more than they give answers. After all, even the most intelligent answer is useless if you do not understand the problem.
But as a friend, you do not listen to identify the problem only. You listen to give a friend a shoulder to lean on. And you listen because you want to experience their pain, their fears, and their struggles. That’s what being a friend is all about.
12 Biblical Tips On Becoming A Better Friend And Good Listener
I will never forget the two men from my church in Riverside, California. They listened to me as I poured out my fears and problems. I had received an ultimatum from the people who sponsored my visa: get a job or get out of the country. I did everything to secure a job, 1,000+ applications and failed.
But these two wise men didn’t give me any solutions. They just asked me how I was doing, how unemployment was affecting my family, and if there was anything they could do to help. And we prayed for God’s will. Six months later, I finally got a job that I love in a country I never thought I would live in.
But how can you be a better friend, a friend that is quick to listen but slow to answer? I believe we can find help from the 59 instances in the New Testament the phrase one another or each other is used.
1. Love one another
13 times, the Bible encourages us to love one another (John 13:34, Romans 13:8). Because love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful (1 Corinthians 13:5). And love covers a multitude of sins. Hence, a friend who truly loves you will listen to you.
2. Be at peace with one another
Anyone or anything that fails to meet your expectations disturbs your peace. Peace is simply living in harmony with others (Romans 12:16). If you attack a person’s decisions without listening to them you are a fanning conflict. But to be a good listener you need to be peaceable and peaceful (Mark 9:50).
3. Honor one another
I once asked for help and a certain guy said I had misplaced priorities. That was disrespect. Period. He could have honored me by just listening to my story. And if he really wanted to know about my priorities, he could have asked. Hence, Paul advised (Romans 12:10), “Honor one another above yourself.”
4. Do not judge each other
The person who said I didn’t know how to prioritize judged me unfairly. But they didn’t help me. I honestly believe they thought they were helping me. When you shut your ears, you shut your mind, and you better shut your mouth because you will hurt people (Romans 14:13, James 1:19).
5. Be equally concerned for your friend
What does being equally concerned mean? Philippians 2:4, shows that you’re equally concerned for others when you do not look to your own interests only, but also to the interests of others. You can only do that if you truly understand the love of Christ.
6. Accept one another
We need to accept each other as Christ accepted us (Romans 15:7). How did Christ accept you? He accepted you when you were a hopeless sinner. Jesus spent time with the sinners, listening to their stories, and experiencing their deepest fears. Being a good listener sometimes means being willing to sit in the murk.
7. Carrying each other’s burden
The men who helped me to pray for a job did not just give me answers. They listened and shared in the weight of unemployment. Although I did not get the job immediately, but the miracle was in knowing God gave me friends who I could count on.
8. Be humble
When you’re conceited, you provoke others to anger and envy them (1 Corinthians 11:33). When you think your friend shouldn’t buy chocolate but water, is it because you care about your friend or it’s because you wish you had chocolate? And if your friend heard what you thought, will she be wrong if she gets angry?
9. Encourage one another
7 times in the New Testament, the Bible encourages us to encourage each other daily (Hebrews 10:25, 1 Thessalonians 4:18). As I searched for a job, there was one person, I met through this blog who never stopped to encourage me. They would send Bible passages, share their stories and even pay for some stuff I needed. I am forever grateful.
10. Pray for each other
No, I don’t mean those prayers that are backbiting (Galatians 5:15), slander (James 4:11), grumbling (James 5:9) or lies (Colossians 3:9). You need to pray honestly. But you can only pray for me if you know my story and care enough to listen.
11. Forgive each other
Confession. There are some friends who recently betrayed me. It was painful and it still hurts when I think about it. But I have to forgive them. Not because I am morally superior, but because I am a worse sinner. Yet Christ forgives me, daily.
12. Wash each other’s feet
We do not need to submit to each other only, we have to serve one another. Epaphroditus became Paul’s servant when he was in jail. If I want to be a good listener and a friend, I have to be your servant first. I have to be willing to touch the sole of your feet with the hands I will put in my mouth.